Programmes > Par auteur > Behrens Nina

Measurement set-up design for archaeological experiments
Johannes Pfleging  1@  , Constantin Herbst  1@  , Elisabeth Noack  2@  , Eduard Pop  2@  , Nina Behrens, Geoff Smith  2@  , Radu Iovita  3@  , Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser  2@  , Jonas Buchli  1@  
1 : ETH Zürich  -  Site web
2 : RGZM
3 : NYU

The measurement of physical quantities in science is an important tool to gain insight into the
system of interest. The quantification of physical variables is free of subjective bias and therefore
allows understanding and validation of the relationship between those variables and the underlying
processes. In archaeology we are interested in the relationship between object modifications or
traces and the task that leads to such modifications.
Experimental studies, which use sensors to monitor the task execution show that it is helpful to
isolate the relevant quantities from the complex process of human manipulation. The relevant
quantities often comprise kinetic trajectories of the experimental tool used including position,
velocity, force, and the musculoskeletal variables of the subject, e.g. body kinematics, and muscle
activity. Traditionally, the focus is on tasks like stone knapping, scraping, or spear handling.
In this contribution we want to give a short overview of how such a set-up should be designed in
order to obtain the measurements desired to answer the scientific questioning. Important
considerations are based on the characteristics of the task studied, like the speed and range of the
motion, and expected peak values. Related questions are: Which sensor type can be used for a
certain physical quantity. What specification should the sensor meet. What are the requirements for
the measurement chain connected to it. How should the sensor be integrated in the tool? What is the
expected cost of a good set up? What are suitable tools for data processing?
We will present three examples of measurement set-ups, which we were using recently for the study
of scraping, spear thrusting and spear throwing. On the basis of these examples we evaluate
different solutions, and point out pitfalls that should be avoided. Special emphasis is set on a robotic
position measurement system based on camera and accelerometer measurements together with state
estimation. This solution is rather cheap compared to commercial motion tracking systems, but
requires more effort in installation and coordination of the sensors as well as appropriate processing
The results of our measurement-based studies on tool-use show that precise measuring and
monitoring of physical variables provide valuable insights to the principle processes of trace

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